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Gravel test begins

Stage 73 (54): Windhoek to Weissenfels Camp

We’ve moved further east in the time zone; sunrise now occurring at about 07:00 (on the other hand, sunset delayed to almost 7:00 pm). Departing the Urban Camp, we’re straight into rush hour traffic and a somewhat convoluted (and hilly) route to clear Windhoek. I observe that Namibians are either really fast drivers, or they’re especially keen to get to their respective work places early. The first 20 km of the day is on tarmac, by which point we’re out of Windhoek and even past the city’s garbage dump.

By the time we hit gravel, we’re into the major climb of the day; 350+ m over 11 km. The average grade is easy, although sections kick up to 9%. We top out at just over 2050 m asl; no wonder I’m gasping. The views from the top looking southwest are dramatic.

This the first of 9 days in a row riding on gravel; very occasionally smooth but more often corrugated with a lot of loose sandy patches thrown in to make it a real challenge. The tendency is to continuously track across the road, side to side and back again, looking for anything that offer a reasonable line. This is usually a fruitless search. Once the days crosswinds pick up, later developing into headwinds, I can’t hear (over the rattling of my own passage) the sound of overtaking vehicles until they’re right on me. These Namibian farmers drive like they’re on an Autobahn. It’s just a lot safer to stick to the left as much as possible.

It turns into a Iong day indeed, as average speed drops close to 15-16 kph … extra tiring as all my concentration is required just to keep going forward. We swing west into a headwind for the final 8 km, arriving at Weissenfels farm, which seems to be more of a truly out-of-the-way rest place than a working farm. As an aside, the term ‘farm’ in Namibia is not what we in BC might call a farm; there’s no sign of crops, for instance. Perhaps some breeds of cattle or maybe sheep can survive out here, but the grass seems pretty meagre even for those.

The wood-fired hot water system serves up showers which are blessedly hot to wash away the road dust. I fall into the tent very soon after dinner. No need for a tent fly out here, I’m sure.

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